Judges leave court after suspension din
The judges - acting Chief Justice Iqbal Ahmed Ansari, Justice V.N. Sinha and Justice Navaniti Prasad Singh - left without offering a verdict following a din triggered by the contention of the counsel for the municipal corporation that the court could pass an ex parte order (which does not require all parties to be present) if it did not wish to listen to their arguments.
"We will not hear the case," acting Chief Justice Ansari said amid the din before leaving the courtroom.
Narayan, a 2005 batch IAS officer who is an IIT Kanpur alumnus, was suspended by the state government on December 12. The division bench of Justice V.N. Sinha and Justice P.K. Jha stayed his suspension while hearing a PIL on December 15. Earlier on the same day, another bench of the court comprising acting Chief Justice Ansari and Justice Samrendra Pratap Singh, while hearing a separate PIL, had restrained itself from speaking on the suspension. This bench observed that such issues could not be taken up while hearing a PIL.
Confused over the differing stands of the two benches, the government moved the court of the acting chief justice yesterday, following which the matter was referred to a full bench - made up of three judges or more - of the high court.
Appearing on behalf of the municipal corporation today, senior counsel Y.V. Giri challenged the referring of the case to a full bench. "When a division bench of the court had reserved its order, how can the matter be referred to a full bench?" he asked.
Giri also questioned the government's move to suspend the commissioner without the court's permission. The court had, in July 2013, directed the government not to transfer the commissioner without its permission.
At this, Justice Navaniti Singh said: "The chief justice or an acting chief justice has got absolute prerogative to make a reference in any case. If he (the chief justice or acting chief justice) decides to make a reference, no one can challenge it."
"When the order of the bench headed by ACJ Ansari of December 15 was brought to the notice of the bench of Justice Sinha later in the day, the other bench should not have passed contrary order," he went on to say.
Acting Chief Justice Ansari agreed. "By raising the point that he was not responsible for what has been done by the PMC, commissioner Narayan is wasting the time of the high court for the last one year. We have seen his performance on the issue of solid waste disposal system," he observed.
Giri, the PMC counsel, then argued that under the Municipal Act, the state government had no power to suspend the commissioner as he was discharging his duties in the capacity of PMC commissioner and not an IAS officer. The court rejected this argument. "Does he (Narayan) cease to be an IAS officer after becoming commissioner?" acting Chief Justice Ansari said.
"Suspending an IAS officer is the prerogative of a state," added Justice Singh. "He (Narayan) is first an IAS officer, by virtue of which he is commissioner. He has been suspended in (the) capacity of an IAS officer."
This prompted another PMC counsel, H.S. Himkar, to say that if the court was not willing to entertain the submissions made by them (the PMC counsels), it could pass an ex parte order.
This touched off chaotic scenes in the courtroom, prompting the three judges to leave without passing an order.
-The Telegraph, Calcutta
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